Ambassador marketing has taken big strides in 2022. More and more brands are looking at their influencer marketing strategies more holistically and identifying the value that can come from longer term partnerships alongside short term campaigns.
Ambassador marketing involves partnering with people who are already big fans of your brand. They are completely integrated with your company’s values and mission, genuine advocates of your products or services and attuned to your company’s target audience and direction.
Done right, ambassador marketing can be a game changer for brands, catapulting their brand awareness and likeability to reach record sales and profits. Today, we’re spotlighting five brands which have truly nailed ambassador marketing in 2022.
Global fitness brand Gymshark has become almost synonymous with ambassador marketing since its launch in 2012. As one of the first small brands to send its products to online personalities with a view to generating long term partnerships, it tapped into influencer marketing just as the technique was taking off. Backed by a genuine love for the products, these personalities were all too happy to rep the new activewear, causing unprecedented demand from their followers and fans.
Ambassador marketing changed the game for Gymshark, and support continues to extend far beyond promotional videos. Fitness influencer Nikki Blackketter was one of the first female influencers to partner with the brand, and helped shape its womenswear lines to create the look, feel and comfort that Nikki’s followers – and Gymshark’s target audience – were looking for.
Fast track to today and Gymshark has built a team of ten carefully selected brand ambassadors (or Gymshark Athletes as they’re known at HQ), which give the brand access to a combined following of over 20 million. As true partners of the brand, these ambassadors promote the brand’s values, take part in events and promotions, support the development of new products and are always wearing the latest Gymshark gear. The level of brand awareness achieved through ambassador marketing has helped Gymshark to become one of the biggest fitness apparel brands in the world.
Why was the campaign so effective?
While many brands have done ambassador marketing well, none have achieved quite as much success as Gymshark. So what makes their approach so effective?
- Trailblazers – the first to market need not always be the best, but in this case, Gymshark benefitted from being one of the first brands to explore ambassador marketing. Influencer marketing was very much in its infancy, so authentic recommendations from huge online personalities included the extra ingredient of novelty. Combined with the fact that Gymshark’s products offered something completely new to the market, the brand was poised for a big take-off.
- Genuine belief in the products – for online recommendations to be successful, they need to be authentic. A huge component of Gymshark’s success was that its newfound partners were genuinely crazy about the products. Regardless of the brand deal or monetary compensation, they were excited to share the products online and for their followers to enjoy them as much as they did. With some of the ambassadors having been involved in the creation of the products, this added even more authenticity and enthusiasm to the launch and promotional activities.
- Aligned vision – arguably the most important contributor to Gymshark’s ambassador marketing success is the alignment between the brand’s vision and the ambassadors’. Gymshark is a brand dedicated to health and fitness and “inspiring people to become the best version of themselves both mentally and physically”. By partnering with ambassadors who share this vision with their own online communities, the brand is perfectly placed to expand its existing community with like minded followers, creating a loyal and dedicated customer base that is continuously growing.
As a premium online retailer targeted towards Millennial and Gen Z consumers, Revolve is a frontrunner in the influencer and ambassador marketing space. Well-versed in a whole range of influencer marketing techniques, from affiliate strategies to product seeding campaigns, the brand has successfully established itself as the go-to source for fashion inspiration within its target demographics and created serious demand for its products as a result.
While 2022 is far from the first year that Revolve has dipped its toe into ambassador marketing, it is the first year that it made headlines with an ambassador partnership – developing an entirely new size-inclusive range with TikTok star Remi Bader. As a plus size model and body positivity advocate, Remi rose to fame sharing realistic reviews of high street fashion brands. Highlighting the huge inconsistencies in sizing and lack of options for curvier women, the hilarious and energetic videos encourage brands to do better.
One such brand was Revolve, and Remi’s mocking realistic review garnered over 1.4 million likes and thousands of comments asking for more inclusive sizing options. Responding directly to this video, the brand kicked off an organic collaboration with Remi, releasing the Revolve x Remi line in August this year.
Ranging from sizes XS - 3XL, the line has generated huge demand online, while demonstrating Revolve’s commitment to inclusivity. This is a perfect example of an ambassador becoming an extension of the brand, using direct feedback to improve the company’s products and generating genuine support and loyalty from followers and fans.
Why was this campaign so effective?
- Commitment to values – Brand values are nothing if they aren’t backed up with real actions. As a brand that claims to be sustainable, diverse and inclusive, launching this campaign acted as a step to keeping that promise. Keeping the designs fresh, current and on-trend reinforced Revolve’s reputation as a trend-setter in the industry, while expanding this reputation into new markets.
- Responding to feedback – Nearly all D2C brands will face criticism at one stage or another – it’s how they respond to this feedback that matters. By reaching out directly to Remi to take on this feedback and truly make their brand more inclusive, Revolve showed themselves as authentic and genuine, an absolute must for brands marketing to millennial and Gen Z audiences.
- Social listening – Of course, Revolve wouldn’t have been able to take on this feedback if they’d not been looking out for it in the first place. Developing communities online is a two-way process, and listening to what your customers have to say about your brand is crucial if you’re going to stay ahead of the curve.
On the topic of inclusivity, another of our top ambassador marketing success stories of 2022 is Fenty Beauty. The viral beauty brand launched by Rihanna was designed to bring more inclusivity to the beauty industry, including products for all skin types and tones.
Launched in 2017, Fenty was poised to take advantage of many influencer marketing strategies, as the practice continued to propel itself into mainstream marketing. Influencer marketing – including affiliate, ambassador and product seeding – has been a core part of Fenty’s marketing strategy since launch, and influencer-generated content continues to make up the majority of content across the brand’s own social media channels.
But the brand truly elevated its ambassador marketing strategy this year with the launch of Fenty Beauty x College Fashionista. With the aim of building a greater sense of community with its younger audiences, Fenty launched the program to bring together a diverse and inclusive community of college students, with a passion for beauty and make-up, who could become trusted Gen Z ambassadors for the brand.
Why was this campaign so effective?
- Mutually beneficial – All influencer marketing is built on equal relationships between brands and influencers, and this campaign really highlights an equal benefit exchange between both parties. The brand ambassadors have an opportunity to create content on a topic they are truly passionate about, gain access to free products and host branded events, while the brand gains on-the-ground insights to refine and improve their Gen Z marketing strategies. Win-win.
- Wider values – Aside from the obvious benefits that the brand ambassadors gain from this program, the campaign also taps into something deeper. While the skills and connections gained from the program can help students land internships and jobs following their studies, they are also part of a movement promoting inclusivity and greater representation of minority ethnic communities within the beauty industry.
With a cheeky brand personality and top class social media marketing team, Chipotle has created countless viral videos and an enviable online presence. It has partnered with many influencers over recent years to take part in challenges, help launch new products and to hop on the latest trends (its recent collaboration with the ‘it’s corn’ kid quickly became its best performing video ever).
Following the brand’s powerful online success, it’s unsurprising that Chipotle has turned its focus to ambassador marketing – fostering longer term relationships with influencers who are already well tuned with the brand’s fun and mischievous personality. Announced on Twitter in September this year, the brand has chosen 14 new ambassadors, while offering a final position to one lucky brand fan (another brilliant technique to stimulate user-generated content).
Placing a key focus on TikTok stars (the brand’s fastest growing channel), the ‘creator class’ will include viral food influencers Newton Nguyen (@Newt) and Zahra Hashimee (@Muslimthicc), both of whom have been involved in previous influencer marketing campaigns with the brand.
Why was this campaign so effective?
- Tapping into existing virality – In true organic fashion, Chipotle has let its ambassador marketing program evolve naturally from existing relationships with online creators. By broadening these partnerships with long-time brand fans, they are not only going to end up with super authentic content, but ideas and creativity that can help the brand continue on its viral streak.
- TikTok communities – By maintaining a key focus on TikTok (the brand’s fastest growing channel), Chipotle can benefit from tapping into the platform’s specific niches. In this case, we expect to see a keen focus on the global ‘FoodTok’ community, a hashtag with over 34.1 billion views. This approach will allow the brand to reach new audiences, extending far beyond the (already impressive) joint follower count of its new community of ambassadors.
The fifth and final ambassador marketing campaign of our 2022 round-up is Bumble. A brand which turned the dating game on its head in 2014 is continuing to create a buzz online with its community of ambassadors, Bumble Honeys.
Available exclusively to undergraduate college students in the U.S, the program focuses on tackling misogyny and encouraging safe, equal relationships in college communities. Honeys create content for social media, host events, execute stunts and partner with local businesses, promoting the brand while gaining valuable skills for their future.
Why was this campaign so effective?
- Focus on community – Rather than focusing on brand fans and influencers with a large following, Bumble’s Honey Ambassador Program is open to any undergraduate student who is passionate about social media and supports Bumble’s overarching mission. This lets Bumble partner with hundreds of brand ambassadors, allowing them to spread the word across all corners of the U.S, while gaining valuable and fresh ideas from a key demographic.
- In tune with a key target audience – College students are a key target demographic for Bumble, which makes insights from their ambassadors hugely beneficial for marketing efforts. Events and promotions can be personalized to specific states, college-specific traditions and local humor to create even more authenticity and likeability.
- Commitment to social change – Bumble’s genuine commitment to social change has been clear from day one. Partnering with college students allows Bumble to start the conversation about safe dating at a crucial time, while young people are first exploring new relationships away from their hometowns and becoming aware of the dating red flags that will help keep them safe both during their studies and well into the future.
How can my brand elevate our ambassador marketing campaigns?
We’ve seen some stellar ambassador marketing campaigns from global brands this year – this post spotlights only a handful. But what can we learn from brands that are really nailing their ambassador marketing campaigns?
Ambassador marketing is about more than just promotion
As we’ve seen from these campaigns, ambassador marketing extends way beyond sponsored posts and brand mentions. Ambassador marketing consists of long term relationships with genuine brand fans, who can offer far more than a platform to share new launches.
Think about how your ambassadors might be able to support core areas of your business. That might be helping to shape a new product line, or offering honest advice on how to make your company more inclusive or sustainable. Your ambassadors are not only a member of your target audience, but a conduit to it too. Take every opportunity you can to benefit from their knowledge and insights – and make sure you’re compensating them fairly in return!
Always authenticity first
As die hard brand fans, your brand ambassadors should live and breathe your company values. This gives their recommendations all the more weight and allows them to generate even more buy-in from their followers. Think about how you might be able to repurpose this content to your own channels or through wider marketing material. Customers (especially in younger generations) are becoming hungry for authenticity, so ensure you’re choosing ambassadors who are genuinely committed to your brand and will let that passion shine through in their online presence.
Show commitment to a mission
Tied to the idea of authenticity is commitment to a greater good. Whether it’s fostering a more inclusive society, generating better representation for minority groups or creating safe communities for young people, genuine commitment to a larger mission is something that your customers can get truly behind, giving them more incentive not only to buy your products, but to become loyal customers for life. With brands gaining larger and larger followings through online channels, it simply makes sense to build strong, connected and impactful communities which can actually foster change.
Ready to kick start your ambassador marketing strategy but not sure where to start? Book a chat with our Strategic Services team to build the best strategy for your brand.